Tuesday, 25 May 2010

On Pride

One of the cornerstones of the GBLT movement has been the concept of Pride. And I applaud it with all my heart, because it is exactly what I feel was and is so needed.

The world denies GBLT Pride. The world suppresses it. And for such a long time – and still today – GBLT Shame has been the standard, not pride. We should be ashamed for what we are. We should change. Whole organisations have been built and funded around forcing us to change our shameful beings. Vast international churches fiercely press that our presence, our existence is shameful and should be repressed and changed and repented of. We should feel guilty, we should be ashamed.

We are told we should hide. We should pretend. We should act lest our terrible weirdness infect, upset or hurt other people. Being GBLT is outrageous, shameful. We cannot speak of it openly. We must not speak of it in front of the children, because it will damage them. We cannot speak of it in front of other people, that’s forcing our nastiness on them, forcing them to endure it, forcing it down their throats, making a display of it. Isn’t it inappropriate? Can’t we just keep it to ourselves? Don’t we have any decency, don’t we have any shame? We should feel guilty, we should be ashamed.

We are attacked and punished for being who we are, beaten down, driven into hiding and killed. We are kicked out of houses, even our parents’ homes, because of the shame and vileness of our presence under their roof. We are turned away from businesses and employers. Laws are enacted to keep us out, to silence any mention of us, to protect vaunted professions from us, to protect children from us, to deny us and push us back. Laws that exist to enforce our shame. We should feel guilty. We should be ashamed.

I grew up with Gay Shame. I grew up with the idea that my sexuality was a bad thing, that I was a flawed and broken, that I had some terrible affliction that I should spare other people. I grew up knowing I deserved less, that I was less, that I was embarrassing, shameful, something to hide. I was taught to be guilty. I was taught to be ashamed.

I was taught that, society taught me that, family taught me that, certain “friends” definitely taught me that.

This is what GBLT Pride means. In a world that tells us we should change, we say we’re good as we are. In a world that tells us we should hide, we say we’re here and open. In a world that tells us we’re sick and broken, we say we’re whole and well. In a world that tells us children should be protected from us, we say we have kids and are kids and that’s pure and good and right. In a world that attacks us, beats us and kills us for daring to exist, we say that’s wrong and we fight back. In a world where laws are expressly created to repress us, we scream that we are equal. In a world that tells us we should not be, we yell that this is who we are and this is fine and wonderful.

In a world that tells us we should be ashamed, we declare that we are Proud.

And this is not a message that is easily announced. So far this year a Pride Parade in Lithuania was met with violence, a Pride Parade in Minsk broken up by riot police, the first Pride Parade in Slovakia was cancelled after being attacked by skinheads, and Moscow Pride Parade has been cancelled (Moscow has a bad history with Pride Parades, to say the least especially as Mayor Yuri Luzhkov refers to gay and lesbians as “satanic“).

So looking at that, at the power and meaning and declaration of Pride, as well as the violent and virulent opposition to it, we get this and this and this and this Straight Pride. Hey you can google it, there’s no shortage of links, alas.

Has the world ever been about anything BUT straight pride? Has there ever been an institution of straight shame? Have your families, your love, your children, your life ever been demeaned and attacked and criminalised because you are straight?

Have straight people ever had to declare their sexuality? No, because the world will always assume it and honour it and raise it up and pure and proper and right. There has never been a need for straight pride because the world is steeped in it, saturated with it and pumps it out every second of every day. They flaunt their privilege like a flag and think it’s oh-so-witty to do so.

They have taken the symbolism of Pride and are using it to attack us and demean what they know so little about.

And today on Twitter, “Geek Pride” was trending. It is, apparently, Geek Pride day.

And I saw people celebrating. Including words like “Hiding in the locker is over.” And “I’m coming out as a Geek!“ and “it’s geek pride day! I can go out in geek drag.” “Is there a colourful flag we should be waving?”

Why, I think I see some subtle comparisons there. Yes yes I do.

I am a Geek. I play WoW, I am a fantasy and sci-fi lover, most of my TV and book choices either have lazers or fireballs or at least vampire fangs. I’ve played D&D, I’ve played GURPS and I have a shelf full of White Wolf books. I had a childhood crush on Nightcrawler for gods’ sake (don’t ask. Really) I am as geeky and nerdy as they come and merrily happy with it.

But this? This is appropriating something vital and powerful. Celebrate geekiness, revel in it, dance with it, wave those towels! It’s a wonderful wonderful thing, but Geek Pride? No, really, no.